Otterhound or Otter Dog - Origin, Characteristics and Behavior

Otterhound or otter dog: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. Otterhounds have two very special characteristics...

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Otterhounds have two very special characteristics: they are excellent swimmers and they have an extraordinary sense of smell. These characteristics meant that they were originally used as otter hunting dogs. However, at present, it is a prohibited practice. This is why their number has continued to decrease to the point of leading them to the brink of extinction. If you want to know more about the otter dog or Otterhound, continue reading this breed sheet from PlanèteAnimal!


  • Europe
  • United Kingdom

FCI Nomenclature

  • Group VI

Physical Characteristics

  • Short ears


  • Large


  • 55-70

Adult Weight

  • 25-45

Life expectancy

  • 10-12

Recommended physical activity

  • High


  • Balanced
  • Very loyal
  • Smart
  • Active

Ideal for

  • House
  • The hunt

Hair type

  • Long

Origin of the Otterhound or otter dog

The otter dog owes its name to the activity it originally carried out; otter hunting. It is a very old breed, belonging to the group of hunting dogs, which was created in medieval England.

Although never a particularly popular breed, the ban on otter hunting led to a dramatic decline in the population of dogs of this breed, bringing it to the brink of extinction. Currently, there are only about 1,000 copies worldwide. For this reason, Otterhound breeders focus their efforts on developing programs for the survival and conservation of this breed.

Otterhound Features

As we said before, the Otterhound is a dog that was bred to hunt otters, which is why it is an excellent swimmer. Its rough, waterproof coat and large webbed feet are some of the characteristics that allow it to withstand long periods in the water. In addition, as it is a very good hunting dog, it is characterized by its highly developed sense of smell, which allows it to follow the scent of otters over great distances.

In general, they are large and robust dogs, with a strong body and a majestic head. Males weigh between 41 and 50 kg and measure around 69 cm, while females weigh between 30 and 41 kg and measure 61 cm.

Here are some of the main features of the Ootterhound:

  • Their head is large and covered with hair: they have a light mustache and beard. The fronto-nasal depression (stop) is quite marked, but it is not exaggerated.
  • His eyes have an intelligent expression: both the color of the eyes and that of the edge of the eyelid can vary depending on the color of the coat.
  • His ears are long and characteristic: they hang down and are covered with hair.
  • Its neck is long and powerful: it ends in a deep chest which is extended by a short and strong kidney.
  • His tail is high insertion: it is held in the air when the dog is alert or in motion. It never rolls over its back, but he can let it hang down when the dog is at rest. It is also covered in fur, although it is a little longer on the underside than on the top.
  • The coat measures between 4 and 8 cm long: it is dense, rough, hard and waterproof.

Otterhound Dog Colors

This breed can have many different colors:

  • Blue and Fire
  • Black and cream
  • Liver red
  • Fawn
  • Black and beige

In addition, individuals of the Otterhound breed may have white spots on the head, chest, feet and tip of the tail.

Character of the Otterhound or otter dog

The Otterhound is a friendly and balanced dog. He is distinguished by his great intelligence and innate ingenuity.

He is a very loyal dog to his family, who quickly makes himself loved thanks to his good-natured character. However, you should know that it is a very expressive, vocal and loud dog, so it will not be a recommended breed for guardians who cannot stand barking.

In general, this is a fairly social breed with everyone. They adapt to families with children.

Caring for an Otterhound or otter dog

Apart from the basic care that should be provided to any dog regardless of breed, here is what an Otterhound really needs:

  • Activity: The otter dog is one of the dog breeds with a moderate to high activity level. He therefore needs to exercise every day in order to stay physically and mentally he althy. A daily walk of one to two hours is necessary so that they can interact with other animals and explore the environment. Of course, otter dogs are great water lovers, and walks by the river or the beach are some of the activities they enjoy the most.
  • Habitat: Otterhounds are not recommended dogs for apartment living. They are easily bored dogs, so they need an outdoor space where they can distract themselves and play. However, it is important that the outdoor space is fenced off to prevent him from running away.
  • Grooming: to avoid knots in the coat, it is recommended to brush it once or twice a week. Also, as it is a dog with large and long ears, it is important to pay particular attention to the hygiene and he alth of its ears. Find out how to clean your dog's ears!
  • Food: Both croquettes and homemade dishes are perfect for Otterhounds. However, in all cases, it must be a balanced diet adapted to the age and level of activity of the animal. Nutritional balance will be especially important in puppies, as inadequate nutrition at an early age can lead to significant developmental issues.

Education of the Otterhound or otter dog

Without a doubt, otter dogs are very intelligent dogs. However, they are also often quite stubborn animals, a characteristic that can complicate their educational process.This is also the reason why they generally need experienced guardians who are well versed in dog training.

Despite their large and robust appearance, they are very sensitive animals to the reprimands of their guardians. This is why it is particularly important to educate him based on positive reinforcement.

One thing to keep in mind when training Otterhounds is that they are dogs with strong hunting instincts. This means that at any time your dog can start following the trail of prey and that you will have a hard time finding it if you lose sight of it. This is why your dog must know how to come to heel without the slightest hesitation.

You might be interested in reading this AnimalPlanet article on positive reinforcement in dogs for more information on the subject.

Otterhound (otterhound) he alth

In general, Otterhounds are he althy dogs and their life expectancy varies from 10 to 12 years. However, like any other breed of dog, Otterhounds are predisposed to certain pathologies, the most common being:

  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Gastric dilatation/torsion

Where to adopt an otter dog (Otterhound)?

As we have seen, otter dogs are a very rare breed. Most specimens are found in the United States and the United Kingdom, so in our country, adopting an Otterhound is not an easy task.

However, if you really want to adopt Otterhound, you can try to contact the nearest SPA to see if they don't have a dog of this breed waiting for a family magnetic. In any case, remember that the most important thing when including a new member in the family is not that they meet a racial norm, but that you can welcome them into your home and adapt to their needs and lifestyle.

Pictures of Otterhound or otter dog

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